Jan 21, 2023

New coach, new imports debut in Converge-NorthPort face-off

CONVERGE and NorthPort, two teams with similar fates of being swept in two games in the quarters of the recent Commissioner's Cup, clash in the opening mainer of the PBA Season 47 Governors Cup at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig Sunday.

The FiberXers and the Batang Pier mix it up at 6:45 p.m. in a face-off between two teams both with some changes in their lineup.

Both also opted to bring in new faces as imports, with NorthPort tapping Marcus Weathers and Converge enlisting Ethan Rusbatch.

Then adding a big excitement is the coaching duel between two collegiate champion tacticians now hoping to carve a niche in the pros.

In his second conference with Converge, Aldin Ayo sets out for battle against debuting NorthPort coach Boni Tan -who's in a new phase of coaching life after making a mark in the NCAA as a three-time champ with Letran.

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Ayo has his own sterling collegiate career with a championship with the Letran Knights in 2015 then with the La Salle Archers in the UAAP in 2016.

The young Converge mentor didn't do badly in his first conference in the PBA, steering the FiberXers to fourth-place seeding in the quarters. But then they ran into the San Miguel Beermen and were booted out after back-to-back losses.

Converge is hoping to do better with a lineup that now includes new trade recruits Jerrick Balanza and Barkley Ebona.

They also have high hopes on Rusbatch, a 6-foot-5 wing guy already seen by Filipino fans strutting his stuff with the New Zealand national team.

The well-built 30-year-old was the Most Improved Player awardee in the New Zealand National Basketball League in 2019.

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In his PBA debut, Rusbatch will be matched up with Weathers, who is fresh from his final year of college ball in the US with the SMU Mustangs. Prior to his SMU stint, Weathers suited up with the Miami RedHawks then with Duquesne U.

He's an All-AAC Second Team member with the Mustangs last year.

Being a team manager with NorthPort before his shift to head coaching position, Tan is well familiar with the Batang Pier.

A new guy debuting in a Batang Pier jersey is Joshua Munzon. (SB)